I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
Monday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question, “In what subtle ways are each of us susceptible to having the same kind of attitude as we see revealed here in this “man of sin”?
As Adventists, we often think of the anti-Christ as the leader of a system reveled in the book of Revelation. While Revelation does identify a specific leader within a specific system, setting himself up as God, and thus an anti-Christ, John the revelator also tells us in 1 John 2:18, “even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” So the Scriptures warn of many anti-Christs. So who are all these anti-Christs?
To answer this question, let’s back up a little bit. In studying the three angels message, we see that a so called religious system, Babylon falls. Again we know from studying Revelation that this is a specific system. However, we also see that this system has an attitude. That attitude is legalism. Man- made laws, man- made day of worship, leading to a man -made way of salvation, outside of trusting in the merits of Jesus and His blood. While Revelation pinpoints this system, that fact is clear, that this attitude can be found in other systems as well, and history has proven it has been. Were not the Sadducees and Pharisees making their own laws and trusting their own works for salvation? Yet they were not Babylon. So could it be that if I am not careful to crucify self and die daily, that this same attitude of Babylon could be found in my heart too?
So, if it is possible for me to have the attitude of Babylon, would it also be possible for me to have the same attitude as the anti-Christ, thus making me one of many anti-Christs? An anti-Christ is someone who sets himself up as Christ, just as the man of sin mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Here we see that the man of sin, or anti-Christ sits in the place of God. So how could I possibly be an anti-Christ, sitting in the place of God? Isaiah 33:22 tells us; “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver.” Our Lord God is our lawgiver and judge. So, when I set myself up as judge of other peoples motives, or think that I can interpret the law for everybody, I am usurping the seat of God and setting myself up as God, and thus becoming an anti-Christ!
Like Babylon, Anti-Christ is more than a system. It is an attitude. In the book, Great Controversy, Pages 292-3, Ellen White explains, that while the pilgrims came to the new world, to escape the anti-Christ, that they carried the attitude of anti-Christ with them to the New World. “It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. “Very few, even of the foremost thinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament, which acknowledges God as the sole judge of human faith.”–Ibid., vol. 5, p. 297. The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors.”
2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Scriptures are profitable for doctrine and correction. I can only define God’s law by what is in the Scriptures , but not by my personal opinions or traditions, like the Pharisees in Christ’s time, and religious leaders in the dark ages did. I am not the interpreter of the law for the whole world, nor, can I think to change times and laws to meet with my own opinions or inclinations. Simply put, I am not the lawgiver, and cannot judge people by my own standards. Also, while open sin must be dealt with, according to 1 Corinthians 6, as a church we may have to address outward actions, but I as an individual cannot judge inward motives. In judging outward actions we must still be careful. Joseph almost put poor Mary away thinking he had all the evidence of an affair. Even with his overwhelming evidence he was wrong! Even with all his evidence he tried to put her away privately without any public embarrassment. What a great example for us to imitate. Even with his overwhelming evidence, Joseph was not going to judge Mary’s heart.
In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul teaches churches, not individuals to judge open and outward actions very carefully. Paul teaches no one to judge the heart and inward motives. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us God and the Scriptures alone tell us what is right and wrong. I am not the lawgiver or the interpreter of the law for the rest of the world. The Lord our God is our lawgiver and judge. When we judge people according to our own standards, opinions and understanding, we usurp the throne of God and become an anti-Christ.
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
Friday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question, “What are ways that we can manifest the spirit of antichrist toward others?”
I think there are several ways, all of which boils down to pride. For example, many understand Paul is speaking of the anti Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
Do we take God’s place in the temple when we sit in condemnation of our brother? Jesus Himself says in John 5:22, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:” If we decide to condemn a brother are we not trying to sit in Christ’s judgment seat? Are we not making ourselves a “Christ”?
It is pride and the spirit of anti-christ that makes us think we can condemn a brother. It is the same foolish pride that makes us think we can save ourselves, or that others must be saved by our standards. In Revelation John writes about the anit-christ and Babylon. Many Adventists recognize the anti-christ as the leader of Babylon. We recognize Babylon as a false system of worship. This is true, but Babylon is more than a system of worship, it is an attitude.
The attitude of Babylon and the anit-christ is, “I can save myself by my works.” It all started at the tower of Babel when man decided not to trust God anymore and relied on their own efforts to build a tower of salvation. They did not trust God to not destroy them and thought they could work their own way to heaven. Later in the book of Daniel we read where God gave the kingdom into the king of Babylon’s hands. Instead of recognizing this as a free gift, he looks out over his dominion and says, “is this not great Babylon that I have built.” The king of Babylon had to learn that all he had was a gift of grace and not the efforts of his works. In Revelation 14 we read about the fall of Babylon in the second angel’s message. The first angel tells us about the everlasting gospel of grace and uses language which reminds us of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a sign of rest. We rest our faith in God as our creator and redeemer. By giving our allegiance to the gospel and the Sabbath we humble ourselves in recognizing that we did not make ourselves nor redeem ourselves. The Sabbath truth destroys our pride, works, and anti-christ attitudes. Thus Babylon falls, as we realize no man made system of worship is going to save us. Nothing man made can save us whether it is a tower or a day of worship.
Cain had the attitude of Babylon when he presented the works of his field as a sacrifice. God could not accept any form of worship that had the print of self on it. He could only accept the sacrifice and worship Abel presented which pointed to the Lamb of God, our only hope of salvation.
In Galatians 2:20 Paul shows us the pure gospel is “not I but Christ”. Anytime pride tries to make it a combination of our ideas with Christ’s ideas or our works with Christ’s works, we have the spirit of anit-christ and Babylon.
You can find more studies and devotionals on my personal website, In Light of The Cross.